Parenting can be a challenge, especially if it’s your first time raising a child. This is the reason why most people tend to raise their children similar to their own upbringing since they figure that if it worked for them, then it may work for their kids as well.
However, a growing number of parents are choosing to do things differently and are opting for a gentler approach.
Gentle Parenting Works
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 44 percent of parents say that they’re taking a different path from their own parents, and they’re choosing to give their kids more love and affection than what they received as a child.
As they want their children to grow up in a loving and supportive home, these parents are choosing a kinder style—gentle parenting, which relies on mutual understanding, empathy, and respect.
If you want to break parenting stereotypes, here’s how to nurture and raise your child in a gentle way.
Three ways to practice gentle parenting
1. Respect Your Child’s Preferences and Feelings
Some parents try to change their kids instead of accepting them for the way they are. One of the most important aspects of gentle parenting is respecting your child’s preferences, so don’t try to turn them into something that they’re not.
For instance, if your child would rather learn dance than martial arts, allow them to do so and give them your full support.
Take care not to hurt their feelings too—remember, a sharp word or even a look is enough to cause emotional hurt in a child. If you’re on the phone and your child keeps trying to get your attention, don’t push them away or tell them to “shut up.”
Instead, let them know that you’re just talking to a friend or a co-worker right now and you’ll be free in a few minutes to listen to them.
2. Check Your Expectations
Some parents believe that kids should hit emotional milestones at around a certain time and expect them to be able to understand things once they reach a certain age.
But this couldn’t be farther from the truth as children develop differently from one other, with some becoming more mature than others despite being the same age.
Experts say that birth order, cognitive ability, and personality contribute to a child’s maturity levels, so it would be unfair to expect all children to behave in the same way.
For instance, while a three-year-old might behave perfectly at daycare, another child of the same age might throw a tantrum.
If your child yells or screams, it’s likely because they don’t know how to tell you what they want, so talk to them calmly to figure out what they need.
The same goes for skills, and parents shouldn’t expect their kids to have the same skills as other children.
Keep in mind that although your neighbor’s child might be capable of creating intricate portraits at a young age, perhaps your child is perfectly content with drawing stick figures and simple landscapes.
If this is the case, practice gentle parenting. Support your little one by getting them some art materials and teach them how to draw simple things, such as a colorful butterfly garden. Assure them that they don’t have to be perfect, and as long as they’re having fun, then that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.
3. Explain Your Reasons for Setting Boundaries
Back in the day, parents set rules and expected children to obey because they said so, with no explanations given. In contrast, gentle parenting means setting boundaries in such a way that it enables children to grow as a person and do things in a better way.
For instance, if you tell them that they can only have an hour of screen time after dinner, you need to explain that it’s because too much TV isn’t good for their eyes.
If your teenager has a habit of staying up late because they’re constantly on their phone, telling them that turning off their phone and going to bed early makes it easier for them to get up and go to school.
These boundaries let your child know what is expected of them, which helps them to become more responsible as they grow.
There are different ways to parent, but practicing kindness, respect, and empathy always yields good results when you’re raising a child.
Consider these ideas to start a gentle parenting journey with your child to help them become happy and resilient adults.